Finding a Path into Poetry with Annotations, FSLL Charts, and Poetry Chats

Last week  (April 17) we began our exploration of poetry with an inquiry-oriented warm-up.  I presented students two documents: An annotated copy of "Alone" by Maya Angelou (annotations by me) A FSLL (Feelings, Story, Language, and Lines) that I had completed for "Alone" by Maya Angelou. Students could work alone or with a partner to … Continue reading Finding a Path into Poetry with Annotations, FSLL Charts, and Poetry Chats

Next Steps for Thinking About Theme, Central Topics, and Social Issues: Pop-Up Book Club Meetings

In my last post, I shared how we used a Lucy Calkins learning structure to think about more deeply about theme, central ideas/topics, and social issues.  Yesterday, I did two variations on some "pop-up" book club meetings to help students think through these elements. Variation #1, Periods 1 and 4 On Monday evening,  I compiled … Continue reading Next Steps for Thinking About Theme, Central Topics, and Social Issues: Pop-Up Book Club Meetings

Argumentative Writing March Madness with Post-It Note Reading, Think Tank Conversations, 11×14 Reasons and Evidence Mapping + Essay Drafting

The last five weeks have been a whirlwind here between district third quarter benchmark testing and next steps into argumentative writing, the culminating activities of the front-loading skill work we did in February (see previous blog posts, please).  I'd like to share our journey of reading, writing, and thinking with you by outlining the major … Continue reading Argumentative Writing March Madness with Post-It Note Reading, Think Tank Conversations, 11×14 Reasons and Evidence Mapping + Essay Drafting

Extending and Applying Our Inquiry Work with Kernel Essays: Next Steps

In my last post, I shared how I'm frontloading our argumentative writing unit with an emphasis on key concepts and text structure as we explored mentor texts and applied Gretchen Bernabei's kernel essay strategy to help students organize ideas.  In this post, I'll share how we extended that work and how students had opportunities to … Continue reading Extending and Applying Our Inquiry Work with Kernel Essays: Next Steps

Inquiring into Argumentative Writing: Deconstructing Text Structure with Kernel Essays

Last week we moved from our exploration of features of argumentative writing to text structure.  On Wednesday, we began with the following writing activity using these images I projected onto the board with the LCD projector and these prompts: Once students had time to think and write, we came together for whole class discussion to … Continue reading Inquiring into Argumentative Writing: Deconstructing Text Structure with Kernel Essays

Counterclaim Station Throwdown

After introducing claim statements with a task card walk last Wednesday, we then began inquiring into counterclaims and rebuttals on Thursday and Friday.   I decided to do station rotations as our learning activity, and after a little tweaking with my first two classes, I polished the learning structure for my final two groups. We began … Continue reading Counterclaim Station Throwdown

Introducing Argumentative Writing with Four Corners Debate, Table Talk, Ping/Pong Pros and Cons, and Team Debates

Taking a page from the playbook of Jennifer Gonzalez at Cult of Pedagogy, I decided to introduce our new unit on argumentative writing with some informal debate.  On Day 1, we started with this ticket in the door that surveyed students on what they knew about debate.  Students engaged in partner talk (I recommend the … Continue reading Introducing Argumentative Writing with Four Corners Debate, Table Talk, Ping/Pong Pros and Cons, and Team Debates

Give Them Something to Talk About: Book, Head, Heart Reflections + ConverSTATIONS

A few weeks ago my students completed a Book, Head, Heart set of reflections as a formative assessment and reflection for their day of in-class reading of their choice library books. I borrowed this strategy from Bob Probst and Kylene Beers; you can read more about BHH in their book Disrupting Thinking.   Once they completed composing … Continue reading Give Them Something to Talk About: Book, Head, Heart Reflections + ConverSTATIONS

Active Learning and Thinking: Walk and Talk Partner Discussions

Right after the first of the year, one of my favorite teachers and literacy leaders, Sarah Brown Wessling, posted this video about taking her class on the move.  Last year, I crafted and incorporated many learning activities for my high school students that involved movement, and I've continued that with my 8th graders during the … Continue reading Active Learning and Thinking: Walk and Talk Partner Discussions

Supporting Young Readers: Developing Reading Club Conversation Skills

In my last blog post, I outlined the prep work we did leading up to our "birds of feather" topics reading club meetings to help students dig more deeply into their readings and to come prepared for the reading club discussion. Prior to our club meetings, students brainstormed meeting etiquette and expectations: We also incorporated … Continue reading Supporting Young Readers: Developing Reading Club Conversation Skills